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Happy New Year: The Good, Bad and the Ugly

By Paloma Sharma/Rediff.com
Last updated on: October 28, 2014 15:41 IST

Abhishek Bachchan in Happy New YearHappy New Year's moral compass is terribly twisted, says Paloma Sharma.

As what is probably the world's first dance-heist-revenge-musical, Happy New Year has polarised people more than the cola wars could manage.

One does not simply like/dislike Happy New Year. One either *loves* it or *hates* it -- and with good reason.

While the film is a fun masala entertainer in parts, it is based on a weak script and a weaker logic.

Despite some touching moments, Happy New Year's double standards are worse than its double entrendes.

Here's a look at the good, bad and ugly sides of Happy New Year.

 

The Good

In a rare display of political correctness and basic humanity, Bollywood actually stands up to racial stereotypes.

When Abhishek Bachchan's character Nandu Bhide refers to the defending champions -- the North Korean team -- as Chinese and goes on to list the whole menu of a Chindian restaurant in their honour, Charlie (Shah Rukh Khan) stops him and tells him how offensive he's being.

We've seen Chak De! India, another SRK film, stand up to racism before and it's nice to see it repeated.

Now I wouldn't go as far as singing praises, since both Khan and Padukone endorse skin lightening products, but it would be nice if more films began to practice the same kind of sensitivity.

 

Anurag Kashyap, Farah Khan and Vishal DadlaniThe Bad

Want to make a joke but you're too lazy to come up with new material?

That's why we have gay people!

Happy New Year has enough men hitting on other men to qualify as a gay bar, except that instead of portraying the men as normal individuals who may want to pursue a romance with another man, they are turned into caricatures.

It was great to see Anurag Kashyap and Vishal Dadlani play a couple who haven't come out of the closet and, hopefully, when people watch big names play homosexual characters, it might help eliminate some of the stigma still attached one's sexual orientation.

However, other members of the cast were portrayed as either repressed or hypersexual or both.

Feathered boas and frilly pink tutus are great accessories but when it is used repeatedly in the context of gay men, as a means to feminise them and thereby, according to some twisted logic, demean their masculinity, it really means if you're not straight and macho, you're fair game.

 

Deepika Padukone in Happy New YearThe Ugly 

Deepika Padukone plays Mohini, a bar dancer, who:

1. Loves the Inglees, but

2. Cannot speak the Inglees

And though Charlie might lust after her, it does not prevent him from calling her a 'bazaru aurat.'

This guy's supposed to be the hero?

Really?

What's worse is that Mohini still harbours feelings for him, which is probably why Charlie goes on to insult her character even more and she STILL loves him.

I know love is supposed to be blind but the only way this would make sense would be if Mohini were deaf.

Also, if Mohini is their dance teacher, why does she serve them coffee? Shouldn't they be doing it?

And why does she not get suspicious when the four men enter a dance competition with very little enthusiasm for victory?

What's worse is that when Rohan (Vivaan Shah) is on screen, Charlie's narration in the background mentions that girls do not like him because he's a nerd. Rohan then goes on to try to chat up two ladies in a club, who are more interested in the muscular DJ.

Once the team is successful in their heist and they get rich, Rohan is seen in a limousine full of young ladies in short dresses who seem to have left lipstick marks all over his face and neck.

While I would not even like to think of what is implied, since it is absolutely disgusting that a film starring Bollywood's biggest stars would imply that getting rich equals to 'getting' girls, I don't think this can be ignored.

If wealth and women are linked, then Rohan is obviously paying these ladies to spend time with him. Charlie, who had conveniently labelled Mohini as the woman who dances in front of 'gair mard', doesn't show up to lecture Rohan about how despicable it is to buy actual human beings.

Happy New Year's moral compass has been twisted so bad that it looks more like a piece of Fusilli.

Read the reviews: Raja Sen ' Sukanya Verma ' Paloma Sharma

Paloma Sharma/Rediff.com in Mumbai
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